Between interstates and county lines, life in rural Missouri unfolds in a progression of simple moments that carry the weight of every hard thing gone by. Parker and Melinda are searching for themselves in the hollows of their estranged marriage. Parker, haunted by the demons of addiction, lives every moment at the edge of an undiagnosed disorder — a darkness that steals his awareness and throws him into convulsions. Melinda, on an odyssey of her own, knows Parker’s struggles all too well, and as they try to help their teenage son come to terms with their lives apart, they have only their memories of a brighter life to get by.
Haunting and lyrical, Johnson’s powerful debut is a hymn to the lives we overlook in the quiet places around us. And how close we are to living them ourselves.
If or When I Call is a novel about desperate people shot through with arrows of grace that only a writer as sensitive and insightful as Will Johnson can wield. Lives in small towns are not small, and neither is this author’s heart.
—Wiley Cash, New York Times-bestselling author of The Last Ballad and A Land More Kind Than Home. Writer-in-residence at UNC-Asheville
Will Johnson is a musician and songwriter who has played in the bands Centro-matic, South San Gabriel, Marie/Lepanto, Overseas, New Multitudes, and Monsters of Folk. He also releases records under his own name, and makes paintings centering on the subject of baseball and its history. His work has appeared in American Short Fiction. He was born in Kennett, Missouri, and currently lives in Austin, Texas. If or When I Call is his first novel.